“When we are happy, we are very superficial in our thinking.”
A clinical psychologist, professor and well-being researcher, Todd Kashdan addresses how happiness and “unwanted” emotions affect creative thinking and overall well-being in his book “The Upside of Your Dark Side” – an admittedly ‘provocative’ title that may bring to mind Darth Vader.
What some may label “negative” emotions and ideas are what psychologist Carl Jung and others identify as part of the Shadow Self, which may in varying degrees be shut away from our awareness by active suppression or repression and just not paying attention.
But as artists and others realize, our inner depths – this wealth of emotional and imaginational material – can provide material for creative expression.
“Swept up by the deeper states of play, one feels balanced, creative, focused…”
Diane Ackerman is a poet, essayist and naturalist who has taught at a number of universities, including Columbia and Cornell. In her book “Deep Play” she talks about being able to “play anywhere that is set off from reality, whether it be a playground, a field, a church or a garage.
“Deep play doesn’t have to do with an activity, like shallow play. It has to do with attitude or an extraordinarily intense state…”
This is, she notes, a way to experience flow, which enhances creative work:
Are you inspired to be creative in multiple ways? Many creative people are serial artists or entrepreneurs, multipassionate and multitalented.
Multitalented people often express stimulating perspectives on realizing their creative abilities and passions. Here are comments from three well-known artists.
Xavier Dolan has credits including: Actor, Writer, Producer, Costume designer, and at age 25 has directed five feature films.
He has said “I don’t know that I’m being prolific, I’m just responding, I’m being authentic and I’m just listening to my needs in terms of expression.” …
“In the creative process every human being is confronted with doubts and contradictions and flaws…”
Acclaimed for his films including “Amores Perros,” “Babel” and “21 Grams,” Alejandro González Iñárritu has earned a number of award nominations for directing and co-writing “Birdman.”
In a theatre, we can enjoy the results of sometimes hundreds of talented people collaborating on making a movie, but there may be many years of often messy and emotionally challenging creative process that goes into getting a film actually produced and released. Iñárritu has made a number of interesting comments about that process.
[Continued from Part 1.]
“Before the dance of inspiration and perspiration can begin, there must be some raw material, some spark of inciting energy.”
From the book The Soul of Creativity: Insights into the Creative Process by Tona Pearce Myers.
Actor Rose McGowan relates an experience that may be common for many creative people: being inspired by seeing someone else’s artwork or other form of creative expression:
“After saving my allowance for ten years, I flew to Paris when I was 15 years old. When I visited the Musée Rodin, I was profoundly inspired by the story and the pain of Camille Claudel. Her diminutive sculptures — much smaller in stature to Rodin’s — led me to become an artist.”
Where does creative inspiration come from? It may show up mysteriously, “out of the blue” – and for a good part of human history, it has been explained as a gift from a supernatural being, a Muse.
At least some people still embrace that idea, or at least like to use the concept.
Novelist and author Steven Pressfield writes in his book “The War of Art” about pulling in creative power when we are doing creative work:
“The artist begins with a vision — a creative operation requiring effort. Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse
What fears and anxieties are holding you back from expressing yourself more creatively? Matisse and many other artists and psychologists note creative work requires courage or dealing with our fears.
[Continued from Part 1]
What does creative excellence take?
In his article How to Win American Idol, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman refers to research by Rena Subotnik and Linda Jarvin, who “interviewed over 80 top students at different stages of their musical careers and identified the traits important to succeed at every stage on the way to the top.
“The three abilities that were absolutely necessary as a baseline were intrinsic motivation, charisma, and musicality.”
But for musicians at an “elite” level of talent, “technical proficiency mattered less and the following factors rose to prominence: self-promotion skills, having a good agent, capitalizing on strengths, overcoming self-doubt, exuding self-confidence, good social skills, persevering through criticisms and defeats, and taking risks.”
How does a brutal teaching style impact those factors?
“I push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that is an absolute necessity.”
How much does forceful mentoring help students achieve excellence, and when does it become abusive?
Those issues are part of the movie Whiplash, apparently named after the jazz standard by Hank Levy.
The quote above is by acclaimed teacher Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons) at a music school reputed to be “one of the best in the country,” explaining his teaching approach to one of his star pupils, Andrew (Miles Teller), who idolizes jazz drummer Buddy Rich, and has aspirations to also be “one of the greats.”